GAME STORY: Hico rallies to eliminate Tolar, advances to first regional semifinal

“Winning a series this way is like eating an elephant. It’s monumental, but the way you do it is just one bite at a time. The kids believed that and they did it.” — Hico Softball coach Ryan Starnes

STEPHENVILLE — Prior to this season the Hico Lady Tigers had never won a softball playoff game, much less a series. 

Now they’re heading to a regional semifinal and very few, even in the Hico camp, saw it coming.

With Monday’s 4-2, 7-3 sweep of Tolar in Games 2 and 3 of a Region II-2A quarterfinal, the Lady Tigers completed a stunning series comeback after falling  14-5 in Game 1 on Saturday. They now continue their journey into uncharted waters, where they will face Axtell in the Region II semis later this week. 

“We’ve had an inability to get over the hump against Tolar,” Hico coach Ryan Starnes said. “We played them several times and things would just go bad. We wouldn’t play good softball, but today, we put it together.” 

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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT/BCP PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Stephenville pole vaulter Kirbo wins final award of 21-22 school year

As one of the defensive leaders for Stephenville’s state championship football team, Ben Kirbo was ensured a memorable senior year regardless of what happened at the Class 4A state track meet. 

But the SHS standout and future TCU pole vaulter wanted a little icing on his cake … and got it.

Kirbo vaulted 16 feet in Austin last week to win the Class 4A pole vault competition by a full foot over Pleasanton’s Preston Pilgrim and Argyle’s Mitchell Thompson. And in doing so, he earned our final Capital Farm Credit/BCP Player of the Week award for the 2021-22 school year.

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GAME STORY: Coleman rallies for pair of wins over Forsan, sweeps way into I-2A quarters

After having the opener of its area-round series with Forsan postponed by inclement weather on Friday, the Coleman baseball team showed up to Hardin-Simmons University’s Hunter Field ready to compete on Saturday. 

Despite trailing at different stages of both games, the Bluecats swept the Buffaloes, following an 8-5 win in nine innings with a 13-8 victory in Saturday’s late game to win the best-of-three area-round series and earn a date in the Region I-2A quarterfinals with Albany.

After extending Game 1 with a run in the seventh inning and limiting Forsan to a single run in a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the eighth, Coleman used a three-run ninth to put the Buffaloes on the brink of elimination. And after absorbing a two-run Forsan first and trailing 4-3 heading into the home half of the third in Game 2, the Bluecats scored 10 of the final 14 runs to survive and advance.

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UIL STATE TRACK: Cross Plains girls just miss team title amid points total confusion

Photos by Joe Garcia III, PressPassSports.com

Katie Goains became a legend for the community of Cross Plains on Saturday night as the Class 1A state track and field meet came to a conclusion.

In the 1,600-meter relay, Goains passed Blum’s Kayden Arrington in the final meters to clock a time of 4:14.72 and earn a bronze medal.

More importantly, Goains’ strong closing effort helped lift the Lady Buffaloes into what they thought was a state championship.

The elation of the title was short lived as the Lady Buffs found out shortly after thinking they had tied Ackerly Sands for the title with 40 points that the UIL did not account for the four points that Sands’ Landry Morrow had earned in the 100 hurdles with her fourth-place finish.

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GAME STORY: Coahoma closes out Merkel to advance to Region I-3A semifinals

While the Merkel Lady Badgers built a 6-1 lead through three innings on Saturday, Coahoma coach Alex Orosco remained patient throughout Game 2 of their Region I-3A quarterfinal series. 

Already up a game following Friday’s 5-3 win in Game 1, Orosco had ace pitcher Hannah Wells waiting in the wings and was waiting for an opportunity to call on her in for a closing roll. 

That opportunity presented itself when Coahoma rallied to take a 7-6 lead in the fourth inning, after which Wells was shifted from third to the pitching circle where she blanked Merkel for four straight innings in a 9-6 win at ACU.

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GAME RECAP: Big fifth inning lifts Bulldogs into the third round

FORT STOCKTON — Brooks Gay had 10 strikeouts and scattered six hits in five scoreless innings as the Wylie baseball team advanced to the third round of the playoffs with an 8-1 win over El Paso El Dorado on Saturday afternoon.

Braden Regala continued his postseason hot streak by going 3 for 3 at the plate and scoring three runs while also driving in four.

Wylie will now face El Paso Del Valle next week in the Region I-5A quarterfinals.

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FEATURE: Bronte’s Jackson hoping an extra year of experience will pay off in Austin

BRONTE — A year ago as a freshman, Bronte’s Emily Jackson made her state track meet debut with a nervous performance in the 300 hurdles. 

A year later, a 16-year-old Jackson is returning to Austin as a still young, albeit more experienced 10th-grader with an added level of maturity 

She is a year older. A year faster. And most importantly, she believes she has learned from her nerve-racking experience at Myers Stadium which saw her place eighth out of nine runners with a time of 51.50 last season. 

“Last year on the day of (the state meet), I was so nervous that I felt like I really couldn’t compete to my highest potential,” Jackson said. “And I don’t think I did.

“But after just going and seeing it and being there last year, I’m hoping the (experience) will help things go smoother. I’ve been there once, so hopefully, it won’t be such a shock.”

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GAME STORY: Brock outlasts Coahoma to sweep weather-delayed area-round series

The Brock baseball team overcame a long weather delay and a scrappy Coahoma team to advance to the Region I-3A quarterfinals on Friday, sweeping the Bulldogs 3-0 and 12-2 at Abilene High’s Blackburn Field.

Due to a thunderstorm that swept through Abilene in the fifth inning of Game 1, the Eagles didn’t finish their 4:30 series opener until after 9:30, which pushed the end of Game 2 past midnight. 

But Brock got a pair of strong pitching performances and found its offense in the late game to put away Coahoma and earn a third-round playoff matchup with the winner of Jim Ned and Holliday next week.

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GAME RECAP: Wylie bats come alive in Game 1 rout of EP El Dorado

FORT STOCKTON — Garrett Graham hit two home runs, Landon Williams had a two-run blast and JT Thompson went 4 for 4 at the plate as the Wylie baseball team opened its area-round series with a 17-6 thumping of El Paso El Dorado on Friday.

In addition to Thompson’s big day, Graham and Tye Briscoe each had three-hit games as the Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead in the series.

Grayson Bearden earned the win on the mound in relief with three strong innings in which he allowed two runs on four hits after Trey Gomez and Sam Walker kept El Dorado at bay for the first four innings.

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UIL STATE TRACK: Day 2 sees Big Country bring home hardware in 2A; Haskell girls claim title

Photos by Joe Garcia III, PressPassSports.com

AUSTIN — With a second-place finish in the final event of the night, the Haskell girls track team won the Class 2A state championship Friday at the University of Texas’ Mike A. Myers Stadium.

Asia Billington, Brittany Andrews, Emma Roewe and Savanna Camacho ran a time of 4 minutes, 00.37 seconds to claim the silver medal in the 1,600-meter relay, helping their team to a total of 60 points — just two more than runner-up Panhandle (58).

The Goldthwaite girls mile relay wrapped up a big event for the Big Country by stealing a bronze medal with a time of 4:03.78, cutting nearly six seconds off of their time from the regional meet.

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GAME STORY: Coahoma holds on to beat Merkel, 5-3 in Game 1

BIG SPRING — A good start, backed by tough pitching was enough to lift Coahoma to a 5-3 win over Merkel in Game 1 of Region I-3A softball quarterfinal at Big Spring High School on Friday. 

Hannah Wells tossed a complete game three-hitter with 13 strikeouts and was 1 for 3 with a double and an RBI to lead Coahoma (27-4-1) which can close the series out with a win in Game 2, set for 1 p.m. Saturday at Abilene Christian University. Game 3, if needed, will follow 30 minutes after Game 2. 

Merkel, which hurt itself with an uncharacteristic four errors, fell to 26-3. Eva Rodriguez was 1 for 2 with a run scored and Catherynn Bennington was 1 for 3 with a run scored to lead the Lady Badgers 

“(Wells) did a great job,” Coahoma coach Alex Orosco said. “First of all, she was getting ahead. She got squeezed a little bit, but she overcame it.” 

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GAME RECAP: Wylie headed back to I-5A semifinals after edging Randall in Game 2

WOODROW — The Wylie softball team closed out Canyon Randall with its second one-run victory in as many days, edging the Lady Raiders 2-1 on Friday at Lubbock Cooper to sweep the best-of-three Region I-5A quarterfinals series.

Rylee Moore, who pitched the seventh to earn the save in Game 1 on Thursday, went the whole way in the circle in the clincher, limiting Randall to just one run on four hits  and two walks while striking out nine.

The junior pitcher got all the support she needed in the first inning, when the Lady Bulldogs answered a one-run top of the first with two in the bottom of the frame to account for the only lead change in the game.

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FEATURE: Cross Plains qualifies six relays for state – again

Photos courtesy of Cross Plains High School 

The Cross Plains boys’ and girls’ track teams have qualified all six of their relay teams for the Class 1A UIL State Track and Field Meet at Austin on Saturday. The Buffaloes and Lady Buffs accomplished the same feat last year, but they have received more recognition this year since they won all six relays at regional.

The relays’ sweep helped the Buffaloes and Lady Buffs both win Region II-1A team championships April 29-30 in San Angelo.

Last year at state, the Cross Plains boys finished second in the 400-meter relay, third in the 800-meter relay and fifth in the 1600-meter relay. The girls won the 400 relay, ran second in the 800 relay and finished fifth in the 1600 relay.

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GAME STORY: Anson scores pair of run-rule wins over Christoval, punches ticket to I-2A quarterfinals

The Anson Tigers became the first area baseball team to punch their ticket to the third round of the playoffs on Thursday, earning a pair of run-rule wins over Christoval to sweep their Region I-2A area-round series with the Cougars.

Fueled by a pair of outstanding pitching efforts, coach Scotty Nichols team followed a 13-0 win in Game 1 with a 10-0 victory in Game 2 to make quick work of Christoval at Abilene High’s Blackburn Field.

The Tigers (24-1-1) will now await the result of this weekend’s series between Hamilton (20-7) and Colorado City (8-11) to see who they will play in the Region I-2A quarterfinals next week.

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GAME STORY: Sophomore ace Pepper, Wall Hawks gut out 4-3 over Jacksboro in Game 1

The Wall baseball team rallied from an early 2-1 deficit to defeat Jacksboro 4-3 on Thursday at Abilene Cooper, grabbing a quick 1-0 advantage in its best-of-three Region I-3A area-round series against the Tigers.

The Hawks managed just seven hits — six of those singles — and stranded seven base runners, but coach Jason Schniers’ squad got a strong enough outing from sophomore ace Nathan Pepper to overcome a sluggish offensive performance against the Jacksboro pitching duo of Kyler Swan and Lando Belcher.

The Game 1 victory puts Wall in position to close out the series Friday, when it resumes with Game 2 at 5 p.m. at Cooper.

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GAME STORY: Albany’s Chapman comes through on mound, at plate in walk-off win over Eldorado

Junior standout Cole Chapman did it all for the Albany Lions on Thursday.

In addition to delivering a complete-game gem on the mound, the lanky right-hander also came through with the game-winning hit with two outs in the seventh inning to fuel AHS to a 3-2 walk-off win over Eldorado in Game 1 of a Region I-2A area-round series at Abilene Christian University’s Crutcher Scott Field.

Thanks to Chapman’s heroics, the Lions improved to 16-4 on the year and will need just one win when the best-of-three series resumes Saturday in San Angelo.

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GAME RECAP: Reed’s seventh-inning homer lifts Wylie softball to Game 1 win over Randall

WOODROW — The Wylie Lady Bulldogs continued their torrid run, opening a best-of-three Region I-5A quarterfinal series against Canyon Randall with a dramatic 6-5 win on Thursday at Lubbock Cooper to improve to 4-0 in the playoffs with their 11th win in their last 12 games.

Leading 4-0 after three innings and 5-1 with 5½ frames in the book, Wylie saw its lead erased when Randall pushed four runs across in the bottom of the sixth.

But sophomore Mycala Reed launched a solo home run in the seventh — the Lady Bulldogs’ third long ball of the game — for what proved to be the game-winning run. 

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GAME STORY: Lady Lions lose big lead, then rally to capture Game 1 from Hamlin, 10-7

While it may not have been a must-win situation for either team, both Albany and Hamlin put a good deal of importance in Game 1 of their Region I-2A quarterfinal series on Thursday, knowing a win would give them two shots to advance on Saturday. 

The Lady Lions earned the checkmark but had to rally to do it, topping  Hamlin 10-7 at McMurry University to take a one-game lead in the best-of-three matchup.

Carisa Barrera was 2 for 4 with a double and earned a save in the circle to lead Albany (15-13-1), which can close out the series with a win in Game 2 at 1 p.m. on Saturday at McMurry.  Game 3, if needed, will begin 30 minutes after Game 2. 

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UIL STATE TRACK: Class 3A, 4A teams get Big Country off to a good start in Austin

AUSTIN — Stephenville freshman Keirstyn Carlton’s bronze medal in the high jump was the first in a string of surprising podium finishes as the UIL state track and field meet began Thursday at the University of Texas’ Mike A. Myers Stadium.

Carlton jumpstarted a day in which athletes from the Big Country Preps coverage area earned 17 medals.

It wasn’t just the individual medal count that started strong, but also team results. The Brock and Breckenridge boys finished 1-2 in the team standings in the Class 3A boys competition, finishing with 55 and 33 points, respectively, while the Stephenville girls finished in second place with 43 points in the 4A standings.

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FEATURE: State-bound Coahoma senior Ott a wheelchair track pioneer, success story

Four years ago, at the urging of superintendent Brad Cox, Coahoma’s Vance Ott joined the Bulldog track team on a lark.

Few could have predicted — or even dreamt — at the time that that would serve as the first chapter of one the greatest success stories in Big Country track and field history.

Ott, who would become the area’s first wheelchair division state qualifier that year as a freshman, became the Big Country’s first state medalist and champion last spring as a junior. Now preparing to compete in his final state meet on Friday, the senior has a collegiate career to look forward to at the University of Arizona and a dream to one day represent Team USA in the Paralympic Games.

That’s quite a rise for for a young man whose original high school plans didn’t include track at all.

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FEATURE: Young Wall baseball team establishing itself as contender in Region I-3A

During his 14 years with the Wall baseball program — the last 13 of those as the Hawks head coach — Jason Schniers has seen some excellent teams.

In addition to the 2019 squad, which won the program’s first state title, and the 2017 bunch that came within a game of earning that distinction, the Wall coach has had numerous other clubs play three or four rounds into the Region I-3A playoffs.

So when Schniers says a team can play, it can play.

That’s good news for fans of this year’s squad, which enters this week’s area-round series against Jacksboro at 24-6. With seven sophomores and three freshmen on their 17-player roster, the 2022 Hawks are considerably younger than Wall’s best teams of the past, but their potential, Schniers said, may be every bit as high. 

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FEATURE: Big Spring freshman the lone representative at state for the Lady Steers

Zach Duncan, Special to Big Country Preps

Niomi Wines isn’t surprised she qualified for the UIL Class 4A state track meet.  

The Big Spring freshman will compete in the high jump at 9 a.m. Thursday and then turn around and run the 200 later that night.  

“I thought it was a realistic goal, I just had to work a little bit to achieve it,” Wines said. “It was very realistic from the start.”  
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GAME STORY: Stamford girls sweep Haskell out of regional quarterfinals

The Stamford Lady Bulldogs continued their march toward defending their Class 2A state softball championship on Wednesday, eliminating District 7-2A rival Haskell in two straight regional quarterfinal games, 10-0 and 16-6 at Abilene Christian University.  

Citlaly Gutierrez earned two wins in the circle and was a combined 5 for 6 with a double, three homers and nine RBIs to lead Stamford (23-4), which advances to face the winner of Clarendon and Floydada in the Region I-2A semifinals. 

Haskell (10-10) was led by Savannah Camacho, who was a combined 3 for 5 with a double, homer and three RBIs. Laney Hanson and Alyssa Stocks were both a combined 2 for 5 — the latter of whom had two RBIs. 

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FEATURE: Lady Pipers thrilled to advance, now bracing for new challenge vs. Albany

HAMLIN — In a year that has seen much of the Hamlin athletic program in rebuilding mode, green-clad fans have found a rally point around an unexpected source. 

For 15 years, Hamlin softball had struggled in vain to earn a playoff win. But with last week’s 6-2 area-round victory over Miles, which came despite a lengthy gap between games due to a first-round bye, the Lady Pipers ended a frustrating drought that dated back to the George W. Bush Administration. 

“The girls were fired up to get an opportunity to play,” Hamlin coach Jason Botos said. “When we got there, you could just see the nerves. But they were chomping at the bit. We had 10 days off without a game and that concerned me as a coach. 

“But the girls were ready. They were fired up to play.”

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BREAKING: Wylie promotes Powell, brings Hopper home as her replacement

As Wylie High School continues to grow, so too have its needs in the realm of athletic administration.

After promoting Amy Powell to a role in which she will serve as the campus coordinator for girls athletics, the school had an unexpected opening to lead the girls basketball program.

Enter Duane Hopper.

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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT/BCP Player of the Week: Haskell’s Roewe hits for the cycle to claim award

Four hits in one day is a great day for any hitter. But to get one hit of each kind – single, double, triple and a home run – is one of softball and baseball’s genuine rarities.

Yet that is exactly what Haskell senior Emma Roewe pulled off last week when she hit for the cycle in a 17-7 area round win over McCamey.

But there was an added bonus: Nearly all of her hits had huge impact, beginning with an RBI triple to bring in the first run of the game.

She later broke a 7-7 tie with a two-run homer in the fourth inning and brought down the curtain with a walk-off double to score Olivia Camacho to bring the mercy rule into play.

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GAME STORY: Anson rides fast start to 8-1 win over Miles, advances to area round

Coming off a hard-fought 5-3 win over Miles in Game 1 of their Region I-2A bi-district series against the Bulldogs, the Anson Tigers eliminated the drama early in Game 2 on Saturday, scoring four first-inning runs on their way to an 8-1 series-clinching win at Abilene Cooper.

Coach Scotty Nichols’ squad led 7-0 by the end of the third inning and 8-0 before Miles finally scored in the sixth to avoid the shutout.

The victory, which improved the Tigers to 22-1-1, earned AHS an area-round date with Christoval next week.

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GAME STORY: Coahoma girls crush Henrietta, push to regional quarterfinals

ABILENE — The Coahoma Bulldoggettes continued their push into the Region I-3A bracket in dominating fashion on Saturday, eliminating Henrietta 10-0 in five innings in a one-game area playoff at Cooper High School. 

Hannah Wells threw a one-hitter with nine strikeouts and was 2 for 3 with two RBIs and Karleigh Burt was 1 for 2 with a two-run homer to lead Coahoma (26-4-1) which advances to face Merkel (25-2) in the regional quarterfinals. 

The win was the 15th straight win for Coahoma and the 11th time the Bulldoggettes have produced double-digit scoring in that span. 

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GAME STORY: Read spins gem, Albany bats explode late in series-clinching rout of Winters

Behind a gem of a start by Cole Read and a late explosion at the plate, the Albany baseball team rolled to a 12-0 win over Winters in Game 2 of its Region I-2A bi-district series, sweeping the best-of-three affair to advance to the area round next week.

Leading the Blizzards 3-0 after four innings Saturday at the Abilene Cooper baseball field, the Lions put up three runs in the fifth and six in the sixth to turn a tight game into a run-rule victory.

Read pitched into the sixth, before handing the ball to reliever Cooper Fairchild, who recorded the final outs to complete the combined shutout. The Lions starter allowed just five hits and three walks while striking out five to earn the win.

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